Many homeschooling parents have children with ADD/ADHD. Homeschooling a child is challenging enough so homeschooling a child with ADD/ADHD will likely be even more difficult. When I taught middle and high school math in schools so many of my students had attention deficit 504s and IEPS. As such I would have to modify their instruction to support their challenges of dealing with Attention Deficit Disorder.
Overtime I came to believe that certain modifications worked better than others. As such I want to say that my suggestions are based on my own experiences not only as a math teacher but as a parent of a child with ADD. Of course if you are doing something different than what I recommend and finding success then you are on the right track- I will always support success no matter what forms it comes in. I want to focus my tips on homeschooling as homeschoolers can be more flexible in how they address ADD/ADHD. However if your child is homeschooled in a co-op or an online school you still need to pay attention to the things I will discuss so you can evaluate if you child is in the right program. Ok with that said let’s take a look at 3 areas I strongly suggest you focus on if you homeschool math to a child with ADD/ADHD.
1. Use Programs Your Child Likes
The first step in homeschooling a child with ADD/ADHD is finding a curriculum program they like. If your child does not like using the curriculum you have they will not like the subject making it near impossible for them to focus and learn. Now finding a math program your child likes can be challenging and will require a lot of testing and searching. Unfortunately this search for a learning program can get expensive so the more you know about your child’s learning style the better you can narrow your focus. Ask your child how they prefer to learn they will give you great clues on the type of programs you should be using. Example if your child loves video based learning and your using a textbook then you may not be maximizing their full potential to learn math or any subject. You will be amazed at the positive changes that can happen when you connect your child with a program they like and find easy to use. Also don’t assume that your child with ADD/ADHD really likes the program your using just because they don’t voice dislike. Get into communication with your child and really find out what style of learning best suits them. One last note: you may come to the conclusion that your child does not like any math program; if this is the case you have to go with your gut feeling and pick a program- then focus on evaluating it so you can decide as early as possible if you’re going to stay with it or change.
2. Use Programs Your Child Can Control
I have found that ADD/ADHD children seem to do much better when they have lots of control over their learning. When a child can control the pace of instruction and learn in a style that is best for them the results are always very positive. One of the reasons a child with ADD/ADHD suffer in a typical classroom setting is they don’t have control- i.e. the class time is set for them, the teacher will not pause for them, the noise around them can’t be adjusted, etc. There is no way for the child to minimize distractions so they end up focusing on distractions instead of learning. So if you can find a self-directed learning program that your child can comfortably control and enjoy you will have gained a huge advantage over ADD/ADHD. Again finding such programs may not be easy so you have to do your research until you discover what works best for your child. Also just because your child is controlling the learning process does not mean you as the parent give up control. Your role will become more of a mentor, manager and observer rather than controller of instruction. The bottom line is you have to discover the right balance for you and your child to both have control while maintaining a great learning environment that suits their ADD/ADHD.
3. Effectiveness First- Efficiency Later
The last tip I have is focus on effectiveness before efficiency. What I mean is focus on getting a child to do problems correctly (with no time limit) before challenging them with tasks that require time limits. Example if your teaching a child about equations start your practice sessions slow. Give your child one or two problems and make it clear that you don’t want them to rush- tell them not to worry about the amount of time it takes to do the problem just focus on doing the problem correct. If they need to review a lesson or their notes to figure out one problem- great! As long as they are focusing and learning to solve the problem then they are building momentum. Once they understand one problem give them another similar problem and see if they can do it faster. Of course your child will have to be able to solve problems in time limited tasks like tests so start to quiz them with a time limit only after they have mastered a procedure. Remember a child with ADD/ADHD can feel overwhelmed if they face a huge task they don’t understand. So focus on building confidence and ability to focus slowly and then increase difficulty by setting time limits.
Some of the brightest and smartest kids I taught have ADD/ADHD. So to be clear ADD/ADHD is not a problem with intelligence it’s a problem with attention and distraction. As such parents need to discover more about how their child learns and match those needs to great learning programs. As a homeschooler you have much more flexibility to support your child with ADD/ADHD. I have to say that I’m very proud of my TabletClass Math program as we have gotten lots of feedback from parents of ADD/ADHD children saying our program was perfect for their child- they liked using TabletClass and it was easy for them to understand and control learning. However TabletClass Math is not the only curriculum that is ADD/ADHD friendly there are others but it’s up to you as a parent to do research and find them. I wish you all the best!